Abandon all shoes, Ye who enter here. Adidas has decided to sell some of its Kanye West stock and donate proceeds to charity.
After the acrimonious break-up between controversial rapper Kanye West – now known as Ye – and German sportswear brand Adidas, the company had a problem: What to do with all the surplus shoes?
The split left Adidas with a collection of unsold Yeezys worth around €1.2 billion.
Adidas dropped Ye in October last year after he made a string of anti-semitic statements on social media. They weren’t alone in distancing themselves from the rapper. Over the course of a couple months, Ye lost sponsorship and brand deals with Vogue, Balenciaga and Gap.
Over 2022, Adidas lost €513 million in profits, largely due to their inability to sell on the Yeezy shoe brand they’d co-curated with the rapper-non-grata.
Analysts suggested that the Yeezy line was responsible for up to 15 per cent of Adidas’ annual net income.
After months of wrestling with the fate of millions of unsold Yeezy shoes, Adidas have finally come up with a solution.
“Burning those shoes cannot be the solution,” CEO Bjorn Gulden said, adding that Adidas will try to sell part of the remaining Yeezy inventory and “donate money to the organisations that help us and were harmed by what Ye said.”
Exact details of the plan – including how many shoes will be sold and the timeline of selling them – were not disclosed. Gulden said the company will provide updates as it moves forward.
Meanwhile, Adidas is also facing a class-action lawsuit from investors who allege the company knew about offensive remarks and harmful behaviour from Ye years before terminating its pact with him. Adidas has pushed back on the allegations made.
Still, Gulden reminded investors that the nine-year partnership between Adidas and Ye was “sensational.”
While he noted that Ye is a difficult person, “he's the most creative person in our industry,” Gulden said. “He created a model with Adidas that was sought after around the world.” But he added, “We lost that in a month.”